Once a Brit Always a Brit – Dealing with Repatriation

The following guest post was supplied by The Expat Hub – the home of expat advice and information.

Despite all the reasons to be smitten by Britain many people spend time living abroad, whether for work, family, or fun.

But sometimes the lure of Marmite, tea and torrential rain in July prove too much to resist and expats return home.

Missing your beloved Marmite?

As moving to a new country is often as much of an emotional upheaval as a physical one those who move away from beloved Blighty expect to feel some form of cultural shock.

But what many of these expats don’t expect is the re-entry or ‘reverse-culture’ shock which can follow repatriation – returning home.

Some assume that once all the logistical issues have been sorted out (and once the cupboards have been stocked with PG Tips) slotting back into their old life will be a doddle, but re-adjusting to your country of origin can be much harder than you’d think.

Here we explore the main issues people experience on ‘coming home’ after spending time living abroad and offer advice on ways to combat them.

The Grass is Always Greener

Remember, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Once the initial excitement of living abroad has worn off many expats find themselves remembering home fondly or missing it more than they expected. Even things that were a cause of annoyance in the past, like the (let’s face it) fairly dismal British weather, start to be remembered through a rose tinted haze.

Unfortunately these thoughts of home can become so idealised that when reunited with the reality it inevitably disappoints. In these circumstances the foreign lifestyle becomes the one yearned for. The resulting doubts can even lead to moving back overseas.

To minimise the regret you might feel at leaving your life abroad behind it’s a good idea to say goodbye to your host nation in style. Get into tourist mode – check out all the attractions you never got round to seeing and take plenty of photos of favourite places and sights.

Before going home, check out all the attractions you never got round to seeing.

Throw a leaving party so you get a chance to say goodbye to all those people who made your experience special and make a commitment to stay in touch with important overseas connections.

Remember, by maintaining close links with the friends you’ve made abroad you’ll always have people to share your memories with and, potentially, somewhere to spend holidays!


On returning home some expats feel a little alien, or like a stranger in a once familiar land. The places and people they knew before may have moved on in their absence, or they may have changed during their time abroad and feel as though they no longer fit in.

You may feel a bit like E.T. upon returning home.

If this happens it’s important to remember that feeling out of place and lonely at times is completely normal. Although some people are able to blend back into their old life easily for others it can take as long as two years to re-acclimatise.

You should also try not to feel hurt if your loved ones aren’t as interested in your expat adventures as you thought they’d be – remember that they’ve been living their own lives and dealing with their own issues while you’ve been gone (and there’s only so many photo’s you can show someone until they reach breaking point).

If you don’t want your relationships to suffer make sure to show an interest in what they’ve been up to. If things feel strained focus on why you were close in the past and maybe do some activities you used to enjoy together.

If you continue to feel like an outsider look into joining repatriation forums/communities. They can give you the opportunity to talk to people who’ve been in the same position, offer reassurance that other expats have felt the same way and are even a way of making new friends.

Who’s Pippa Middleton?

It’s a fact that you’re far less likely to feel like an outsider if you keep up to date with news from your native country.

This is Pippa Middleton.

Checking out the latest British News before you move back will ensure that you can join in with conversations and don’t feel so out the loop when you first return. And it’s not just the X Factor you should catch up with, there may have been economic, political and social changes you need to be aware of.

At the end of the day the best thing you can do to make the transition easier is to give yourself time to adjust and get back into the swing of Great British life.

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Things probably aren’t going to feel normal overnight, but so what? You’ll get there. Stick the kettle on and enjoy a nice cuppa in the meantime!


  1. says

    IF this fine blog’s owners and viewers will please forgive me [for being so cliche`], but I seriously doubt that I can find another person who loves Britain MORE than yours truly … except for my Identical Twin brother, Bobby. His physiological myocardial-pulmonary network is Union-Flag configured, as it were!

    Our cognomen is CARNES, older version of CAIRNS. Our late dad was a direct descendent of Sir Hugh Cairns, 19th century Lord Chancellor, born in County Down and subsequently of County Antrim [ Belfast ]. May I add that as a younger chap, when reading History at University, I fell in love with British History. It’s in my blood.

    In all candour, I have been wanting to MIGRATE to the UK since 1986. A query here: Why does Her Majesty’s Government make it so bleedin’ hard for a non-resident chap to become a citizen of the United Kingdom. Why? Few people care MORE for the populace of Britain than I … but then ONCE they speak to me, they will quickly acquiesce to the reality that they have been surpassed. *snicker*

    May I anticipate a theoretical objection? You might say: ‘IF you’re a direct descendent of Sir Hugh Cairns, then “there you ARE” … you can migrate.’ My response: ‘Hardly so, for Sir Hugh was 1 or 2 generations TOO FAR distant to qualify me, according to the ‘official migration criteria.’ As is STATED: ‘One or both of your Grandparents must have been citizens.’ Such is not the case. Both parents and Grandparents were born on US soil. Drat!!!! Is there NO hope?

    Actually, IF I were ever permitted to migrate, then I would relish working at a ‘REGULAR’ job, while simultaneously doing ‘church work’
    [music] PRO BONO. I am a pianist, organist [adequate but piano is my main instrument], musical composer and score arranger. *sigh*

    Strangely, I do not have an overpowering urge to simply ‘VISIT’ Britain, since I have learned so much about it, culturally, geographically, socially, and historically. It is actually the PEOPLE of Britain who hold my KEEN interest at the highest-levels. An alleged ‘great land’ is only notable when its inhabitants have noble hearts.

    MAJ. Jesse Carnes, BS, BA, MA, Aerospace Educ. Spec., Order of the Arrow, Wood Badge [class SR-960] email: jessecarnes@gmail.com

    • Melissa says

      Ha! You’re not going to get much sympathy from me. I am a descendant of William the Conqueror, Edward I and the royal Stuart line. I used to live in England, have a half-British son and STILL cannot get a residency. So there!

  2. Michelle Proctor says

    I’d give my eye teeth to get out of this crazyland here in the US and move to the UK. I felt much more comfortable and at home there than I do here in my native land. We have become a nation of idiots here in the US. Please will you adopt me?

    • Melissa says

      Michelle, I’ve lived in both countries and I can tell you that each has its own set of problems. Unfortunately, you swap out one set for another. As this post says, the grass is always greener.

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